My name is Billy and I am a volunteer with the AYCC in Victoria. I first heard about the AYCC through a friend during a discussion we were having about potential volunteer opportunities. She recommended them highly, and with climate change being something I already had an interest in, I was soon signing my first petitions and then expressed an interest to volunteer.
Luke is going without his beloved coffee in April, why? Because Leo.
So hey, I hear you like coffee.
Maybe you like it because it’s delicious, maybe you like it because you are a member of the Melbourne Coffee Cult, maybe you like it because it transforms you from a 7am zombie into the study/work superhuman that this fast paced world wants you to be.
Maybe you just like coffee and you don’t know or care why.
Damn you sexy Almond Latte, I just can’t resist.
And did I hear you mention you like Leonardo Dicaprio?
You do? Awesome, you and seemingly every person who owns a television.
But hey Leo is a cool dude and a good actor, there is nothing wrong with a bit of Leo love. Some "important" people think that he is such a good actor that they decided to give him an Oscar for best actor this year.
This has made a lot of people happy, really happy, some as they thought he was a deserving winner... but mostly because we just couldn’t bear to see him so heart-broken again. So brave Leo, so brave.
It’s gonna be okay, Leo. We promise.
So Leo won the Oscar and everything was good. Maybe you were drinking a coffee when it happened. Maybe you weren’t, it doesn’t change what Leo said at his acceptance speech.
GoodGuyLeo used the platform to say something important and actually pretty cool.
“Climate change is real, it’s happening right now. It is the most urgent threat to our species.”
Now I know that boring old scientists have been saying this for years, but guys now LEO is saying it. And Leo’s cool, so listen up!
Coffee. Leonardo Dicaprio. Climate Change.
If I don’t have your attention now I never will.
Climate change is going to mean a bunch of not so nice things for the world.
For a start there’s going to be rising sea levels due to thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of the ice caps and glaciers, this will lead to reduced land for living and agriculture and all the other useful things that we do with land,”Cya later Maldives”. There will be more frequent and severe natural disasters such as bushfires and floods. There will be greater incidence of extreme heatwaves, which are just terrible for increased mortality especially amongst the aged. Biodiversity will suffer as species go extinct as temperatures exceed what they can tolerate.
These are just a few of the consequences that we are facing.
Perhaps you already knew about these issues, but did you know about the impact that climate change is going to have on coffee?
That’s right, climate change is going to lead to lesser quality, more expensive coffee.
I know, I’m scared too.
Here’s a not so well known fact about coffee: before coffee is coffee, the steaming brown brew of goodness that you know and love, it’s a coffee bean, and before that it’s a coffee plant.
Two of the biggest factors in the health and lifecycle of the coffee plant are temperature and water availability, and these factors are going to be severely impacted by a change climate.
Now bare with me here because the next part of this article involves some numbers and figures and science.
A 2015 report on the suitability of current Arabica coffee growing locations has highlighted some extremely worrying trends.
The study was conducted at a global level investigating coffee producing areas over Africa, Meso- America, South America, and Asia. The modelling engine used by the researchers looked at climate variables such as rainfall and temperature and geographic variables such as elevation that were currently deemed significant in assessing an areas suitability for the growing of Arabica Coffee. Using the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scenario A2a (Relatively delayed development of renewable energy) for emissions paths the researchers assessed coffee growing conditions for the year 2050, the results were not good.
Locations of Arabica Coffee plantations used for the study.
The latest Paris Climate talks in December deemed that keeping global warming to a 2 degree average rise was an acceptable target. The A2a scenario sees an increase of 2 degrees by 2050. Therefore it seems an appropriate that we utilise this scenario for the models.
The Reports key finding was that for the 2914 plotted locations of current Arabica coffee plantations the median prediction under the model saw that: a quarter of the current coffee-growing area would experience no change, 27% would lose 10–20% suitability, and 37% would lose 20–40%. A reduction in suitability results in a reduction in yields and quality.
Of course as the current locations become less suitable new locations emerge as potential new sites for plantations. However this not uniform across all countries, Brazil for example, the largest producer will solely lose out on according to the modelling.
Whilst new sites emerge as potential replacements transitioning is not that simple. Constraints such as soil quality, terrain, logistical concerns, impeding developments and the availability of capital to fund the process will lead to difficulties. If these are not obstacles we are still faced with the ugly prospect of more land clearing which negatively impacts biodiversity and reduces natural carbon sinks such as forest.
To summarise, the modelling predicts a decrease in the productivity of current growing locations. The lack of new sites and difficulty in shifting operations elsewhere will mean that conditions in which coffee is grown will not be as conducive to the current level of quality and supply. Basic economics tells us that a reduction in supply with constant demand leads to a higher price.
It is you, the end consumer who will bear this. The change in price is hard to predict but for some people a daily cup of coffee (or two) is taken for granted and a couple of dollar increase can add up to close to a thousand dollars over the course of a year. As someone with not so much money, (I know, I also can’t believe that writing these articles hasn’t made me a millionaire yet), this is not a very attractive prospect.
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition is well aware of these facts, and to raise awareness and funding has initiated the For the Love of Our Future campaign. The campaign involves giving up either Coffee, Beer, or Chocolate, for two weeks in April.
These wonderful things that we hold so dear are threatened by a changing climate. The coffee plant, the hops in beer and the cocoa plant are, like all biota, sensitive to temperature and rainfall. They are just a few of the foodstuffs that modelling predicts will be negatively impacted by a climate change future.
The ‘For the Love of our Future’ campaign, gives us a taste of what a future of climate change might look like unless we take the actions needed. A future with less coffee, less beer, less chocolate. Is that a future you want?
I for one want a future where coffee, beer, and chocolate are plentiful, if you share this dream then sign up to the challenge and help raise funds for an organisation which is doing great work to help solve the climate crisis.
Sign up to take the challenge here: http://fortheloveof.org.au
“Projected Shifts in Coffea arabica Suitability among Major Global Producing Regions Due to Climate Change” http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0124155
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s explanation of emissions scenarios https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/spm/sres-en.pdf